Try a Carolina rig for Minnesota bass

By C.B. Bylander

Jul 01, 2019

A good way to fish Minnesota bass is to use a Carolina rig, which is a slip sinker setup that drops your plastic bait to the bottom where bass often hold in vegetation, on or along points or other deep structure. A Carolina allows for a very natural presentation of plastic baits near bottom of a lake or river. 

A good way to catch bass in Minnesota is to fish with a Carolina rig, an easy-to-assemble slip sinker setup.

A Carolina rig works well for bottom-hugging bass for two reasons. One, it puts your lure where the bass are. And two, when a bass takes the bait it doesn’t feel resistance immediately. That’s because a slip sinker has a hole through its center, which is different than splitshot or other types of weights that cling to the line. This difference means when a bass inhales your soft plastic lure it doesn’t feel resistance immediately because the line slides through the hole in the sinker until it becomes taut, which is when you feel the fish and set the hook.

Another advantage of the Carolina rig is that you can cover a lot of water in a short time. That’s a big reason why the Carolina rig is a go-to setup for both amateur and professional anglers.

To assemble a Carolina rig all you need is a slip sinker, swivel, leader and light wire hook. Watch the following video to learn how to assembe a Carolina rig in five simple steps. It’s pretty darn simple. To assemble the rig:

  1. Thread your line through the hole in the sinker (bullet- or egg-style are common), and slide the sinker up the line.
  2. Tie a small barrel swivel to the end of the line.
  3. Tie a six-inch to four-foot long leader to the other end of the barrel swivel.
  4. Tie a light wire offset hook to the leader.
  5. Tip the hook with your preferred plastic bait.

Typically, anglers who use a Carolina rig fish with a medium heavy rod in the six-foot, six-inch range and use reels loaded with line in the 15-pound test range. A lot of anglers use slightly lighter line for the leader because it is less visible and may present the lure more naturally. Short leaders work best in shallow or weedy waters. Long leaders are best for deep water. An 18-inch leader is a good compromise for most fishing.

A reasonable approach for sinkers is to use a half-ounce weight for water 8- to 12-feet deep and a three-fourths of an ounce weight for water deeper than that. Your hook size should match the size of your bait. To fish a Carolina rig simply let the lure fall to the bottom while keeping your spool open until it lands.

Next, reel in the slack. Then pull your rod to the side in a sweeping motion, reeling up the slack as you go. Repeat this motion until you need to recast. At some point a bass is likely to attack your plastic crawler, crayfish or whatever, and when it does, reef back and set the hook.

Before planning your next fishing trip, make sure you have the Minnesota fishing license. Purchasing a license will help support educational programs, at the same time you will be supporting and protecting aquatic natural resources in this state.

C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander is a long-time Minnesota angler who has extensive fishing experience throughout the state. He is a former outdoor magazine field editor, daily newspaper outdoor editor and Department of Natural Resources fisheries communication specialist.